• STAFF ATTESTATIONS

      Posted - September 15, 2021

      UPDATED - October 6, 2021

      UPDATED - October 22, 2021

      UPDATED - November 5, 2021

      UPDATED - November 23, 2021

      UPDATED - December 1, 2021

      Summary of Niagara Catholic Vaccination Attestations

      In compliance with the Ministry of Education, Niagara Catholic shares this information about staff vaccinations with the community.

       School Board Employees & TrusteesOther Individuals
      #%#%
      Total number of individuals to which the policy will apply3212100.00%1123100.00%
      Total number of individuals who have attested to being fully vaccinated (with and without supporting documentation)285688.82%98887.98%
      Total number of individuals who provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated50.16%10.09%
      The number of individuals who have not yet submitted an attestation form, if known2026.29%262.32%

      NIAGARA CATHOLIC

      School Reopening and Safety Guide 2021-2022

      Operational Protocols and Procedures

      ORIGINALLY POSTED - September 3, 2021

      UPDATED - September 15, 2021

      UPDATED - October 27, 2021

      UPDATED – November 4, 2021

      UPDATED – December 2, 2021

      UPDATED – January 4, 2022

      UPDATED – January 28, 2022

      UPDATED - February 10, 2022

      UPDATED - MARCH 1, 2022

 

 

 

Introduction

The new school year is almost here! It won’t be long until September 7 arrives, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome our students and staff back to school. Our parent portal is now open, and parents will be able to learn classroom assignments there. Please follow these instructions to set up your password for first-time users, or reset your password if necessary. A link to our support site is also available in the document for those who have trouble.

On September 3, we sent a message to families outlining details about mandatory active screening for students for the first two weeks of school. The screening platform can be accessed through the main page of this website, by clicking on the self-assessment slide. Parents will use their Maplewood login to access the mandatory screening. The information noted above for accessing the parent portal will assist you with accessing Maplewood, if necessary.

Please note that Niagara Region Public Health has provided us with updated information about the safe reopening of our elementary schools on August 30. These recommendations are more restrictive measures than ones required by the Ministry of Education and mean some aspects of life in our elementary schools will change, at least as we begin the school year.  The areas in bold reflect the changes and apply only to our Catholic elementary schools.

Of course, COVID-19 is still very much a part of our lives, and we are committed to ensuring that our Niagara Catholic schools and sites are clean and safe places for our students and staff to work and to learn. We know that last year was challenging. We’re using our experience from the past 18 months to provide a year with more stability, more in-person learning and the safe return to extracurriculars and other activities that bring our schools to life.

Your family is an important part of our Niagara Catholic family. We know this year isn’t going to be fully what we’re used to, and there will likely be bumps in the road here and there, but we want you to know that we remain fully committed to ensuring that this school year is a positive experience for everyone, and that includes parents! Thank you for your trust in us, and for your understanding that we may have to make a few course corrections along the way. But our focus remains on being positive and excited that we will all be able to work, learn, play, and grow in faith together again.

While many of us have been down this road already, for parents whose children are just starting school or are new to Niagara Catholic, we encourage you to review this plan and to check out our FAQs to understand more about how schools will run during the 2021-2022 school year. This will help you with some of the commonly asked questions over the summer and will help you understand our plans for the coming school year.

This is a "living document," which guides our COVID leads, Senior Staff and school principals and vice-principals on how we will ensure the safe operation of schools in the year ahead. It is based on the Ontario government’s COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022) document; and will be updated as necessary; and is available for all parents, guardians, Niagara Catholic school board supporters and stakeholders in Catholic education to review.

After a year filled with lockdowns and school closures, we are all looking forward to a year that is more like what we are used to. Some things will change, while others will stay the same, including:

In-Person Learning or Remote Learning

  • Both options are available to students this year
  • Secondary students submitted intentions in June for September
  • Elementary families submitted final intentions in August
  • Elementary students attending remotely will be assigned to the Niagara Catholic Virtual Elementary School
  • Secondary students attending remotely will be assigned to a class with their home school and will participate in hybrid learning
  • Class assignments are designated cohorts. Cohorts are difficult to follow in secondary under the quadmester system, but students must do their best to stay within their two cohorts (classes) and limit contact with others
  • Students participating in remote learning are not required to wear dress code (elementary) or uniforms (secondary) but must wear clothes consistent with what is acceptable at school on an out of uniform/dress code day
  • Requests to move between streams for extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis
  • Parents must speak with their child’s principal to make a request to move between streams
  • We will continue to limit the number of visitors inside our schools and sites to prevent the transmission of viruses
  • Following the current practice, all visitors to the school will be required to sign in and provide contact information for contact tracing, if necessary
  • There is no transition date for students to move between streams, if necessary

Key dates

  • September 7 – First day of school
  • No staggered entry for in-person students
  • No staggered entry date for virtual students
  • January 17 – Projected return to school date after Christmas break
  • February 1 – Transition to in-person learning after optional remote learning period for elementary students
  • February 3 – Semester 2 begins. Secondary students registered for in-person learning are to return to class to begin the semester

Elementary Learning

  • Students will remain with their cohort for the in-person portion of the school day
  • Itinerant French and Arts teachers and chaplaincy leaders are permitted to visit schools and classrooms to provide full programming to students
  • Special Education staff (ABAs, Speech-Language Pathologists) will return to seeing students in-person

Secondary Learning

  • Niagara Catholic quadmester model will offer two classes per day
  • The Ministry of Education and Niagara Region Public Health support the transition back to full semesters for secondary students. Semester 2 begins on February 3. All secondary students registered to participate in in-person learning are to return to school on February 3.

Keeping Schools Safe

Screening

  • The Ministry of Education requires active screening for all elementary and secondary students from September 7-17. Confirmation of screening for staff and visitors will continue beyond this time.  Anyone who fails the self-assessment may not come to school or work.
  • Niagara Region Public Health mandated active self-screening for schools in September
  • Niagara Catholic implemented a daily active screener with a tool built in to notify parents when a screener was not completed. In January 2022, parents were advised children would be sent home if their child’s screener was not completed
  • The Ministry of Education mandated daily, active self-screening for schools effective January 2022
  • This tool was updated in October 2021 and January 2022 to reflect changes to the symptom list provided by Niagara Region Public Health and the provincial government. The daily active screener is now available to secondary students to self-screen, and a print version is available to families who have challenges with technology. The print version was provided in Word to allow for translation as required.
  • Individuals are to follow revised local public health guidance regarding self-isolation times.

Testing

The Ministry of Education provided PCR tests to be sent home with students who fall ill during the school day. This program has been suspended and schools will not receive additional PCR tests

Staff and students have received two testing kits per person. Additional kits are being sent to schools to replenish supplies used by students who use theirs due to illness

Masks - Students

  • Effective January 14, Niagara Catholic required masks for students in kindergarten
  • Masks remain mandatory for all students in Grades K-12 working or attending school in-person while indoors
  • Public Health recommends masks be worn outdoors by elementary and secondary students when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Students are expected to bring their own masks to school and a wipeable, sealable container for safe storage
  • Non-medical, three-ply cloth masks will be available at schools for students if needed
  • Students are required to wear a properly-fitting, non-medical or cloth masks in school and on school vehicles
  • When they can be worn safely, masks are encouraged during indoor physical education
  • On February 10, 2022, the provincial government announced that high-contact sports games may be scheduled effective immediately, and band and choir programs are now permitted for secondary schools, with the following guidance regarding masking:
    • All individuals participating in extra-curricular sports and high contact/high-intensity activities will be required to wear a mask while on school premises but may temporarily remove their mask for active participation in the activities (e.g., masks may be removed while actively playing basketball, but must be worn while on the bench)
    • Masks may be removed while actively playing a musical instrument but must be worn while waiting for the musical activity to begin and after it ends
    • Masks must be worn while singing and as much physical distance as possible between individuals must be maintained
  • Masks may be removed indoors for students to eat or drink. Public Health recommends masks be placed on a paper towel so that they can be covered bottom and top while the students/staff are eating to avoid contamination. Masks should not be pushed down to allow people to eat/drink
  • Reasonable exceptions to the mask requirements will be considered on a case-by-case basis by principals. Niagara Catholic's Administrative Operational Procedure (AOP) 100.17 - Request for Exemption - Face Mask Requirement - addresses this issue. 

Masks and PPE - Staff

  • Staff are expected to wear a Board-issued medical mask and a shield or goggles when unable to maintain a safe physical distance from students, based on their specific role or job functions (e.g., gloves, gowns), or are working with unmasked students
  • Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health advises medical/surgical masks remain safe for use in schools, but effective January 2022, non-fit tested N95 masks are available to staff who wish to use them
  • Public Health recommends masks be worn outdoors by elementary and secondary staff when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Public Health no longer requires eye protection for secondary staff working with students who are wearing masks. Elementary staff must wear masks and goggles when working with students
  • PPE will continue to be provided to staff when there is a risk of exposure due to close physical contact
  • All medical masks and PPE made available to staff is sourced by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, and the government’s pandemic supply chain
  • Staff are required to wear masks outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Reasonable exceptions to the mask requirement will be made for staff
  • Eye protection is not required for working with students wearing masks
  • Masks with clear sections may be appropriate for special education staff to use when working with students who are deaf/hard of hearing
  • N95 respirators (fit tested) are to be worn by staff who perform an Aerosol Generating Medical Procedure (AGMP) or are in a room while one is being performed.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Frequent hand washing and cough and sneeze etiquette play important roles in helping stop the spread of viruses in schools
  • Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective method to keep hands germ-free
  • Alcohol-based hand rub works most effectively when hands are not visibly dirty
  • Signage will be placed in classrooms and washrooms reminding students to wash their hands, particularly before/after eating and after using the washroom
  • Signs will assist students in ensuring they wash hands properly (handwashing signs from Niagara Region Public Health) and offer tips and tricks to help ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms for students to access as required, provided by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the government’s pandemic supply chain
  • Students will be encouraged to wash/sanitize their hands regularly throughout the day
  • Tissues and lined, no-touch wastebaskets will be available for students to discard used tissues

Physical Distancing

  • Students and staff must do their best to maintain a safe, physical distance from each other while indoors at school
  • All unnecessary furniture will remain out of classrooms this year to allow for maximum spacing between desks
  • Special consideration for physical distancing will be considered for shared workspaces (such as lab tables or in technology classrooms)
  • Schools will maintain their existing plans to ensure limited contact between cohorts at arrival/dismissal time and at lunch and recess (different doors, staggered timing)
  • Students will remain with cohorts indoors, but do not need to stay within their cohorts outdoors (secondary). Physical distancing between cohorts will be encouraged

Signage

  • Floor decals and other signage will be provided to schools to guide traffic flow. Schools will receive new floor markers this year to replace damaged ones
  • New signs will be provided for hallways and washrooms focused on handwashing and physical distancing
  • New exterior door signs will be provided for visitors to schools with updated self-assessment questions, based on provincial guidance
  • COVID leads will ensure schools have supplies of relevant signage such as donning and doffing PPE and safe disposal of used PPE

Inclement Weather/Extreme Heat 

Niagara Catholic offers the opportunity for students to participate in asynchronous learning during inclement weather days.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Standards and Protocols

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow all provincially mandated cleaning protocols
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow the cleaning program in place in the 2020-2021 school year, which includes cleaning high-touch surfaces a minimum of twice a day, and frequent cleaning of common areas such as washrooms
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to work in alignment with Niagara Region Public Health to ensure cleaning protocols are performed as expected
  • We will continue to use cleaning materials in our schools that are approved by Health Canada for hard-surface cleaning

Shared Materials

Shared materials will be permitted. Staff should remind students of the importance of hand hygiene after using shared materials, particularly when shared materials cannot regularly be cleaned

Nutrition Programs

  • Breakfast Clubs/snack programs are permitted this year - we will begin this year with grab-and-go snacks in elementary
  • Pizza days/other special lunch days are also permitted this year

Water Fountains/Hydration Stations

  • Water fountains will remain closed this year
  • Students may fill up refillable water bottles at hydration stations

Shared Spaces

Due to Omicron, the use of shared spaces should be used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. It is crucial that anyone in a shared space be masked and observe a safe physical distance from others. If that is not possible, an alternate space should be used.

  • Public Health permits the use of shared spaces in accordance with the Ministry of Education's COVID-19 Health, Safety and Operational Guidance for Schools document
  • Homerooms, libraries, computer/technology labs, lockers and cubbies are permitted
  • Staff rooms are permitted - limit capacity and consider assigned seating and spaces between seats to allow for physical distancing
  • Washing/sanitizing hands is recommended when in or leaving shared spaces
  • Public Health requires schools to track who is in places like libraries (entry/exit logs) and to limit the number of people inside shared spaces to ensure physical distancing requirements can be met - elementary
  • Public Health permits the use of cafeterias and lunchrooms in secondary schools, in accordance with Ministry requirements (below):

Students may eat together:

    • outdoors, without distancing
    • indoors, with a minimum distance of two metres maintained between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort

Larger schools should employ various means to limit the number of students and cohorts eating lunch in proximity to each other (examples include staggered lunch periods, eating outdoors or in alternative spaces).

Cafeteria use is permitted as follows:

    • Capacity limits for cafeterias should be established to enable two metres distancing between cohorts, and as much distancing as possible within cohorts
    • Where this is not possible, school boards are encouraged to work with their local PHUs to develop a plan that reduces the number of students and cohorts eating in proximity to each other as much as possible

Secondary students are permitted to eat off-campus

Each student is encouraged to bring their own drink bottle that is labelled, kept with them during the day and not shared

Use of shared microwaves/kitchen space is permitted

Assemblies

  • Elementary and secondary assemblies are not permitted indoors due to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant

Staff Meetings

  • Virtual staff meetings are recommended for both elementary and secondary schools

Visitors

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to limit the number of non-essential visitors to schools
  • Parents will drop off/pick up students outside, including when students have been in self-isolation after feeling ill at school
  •  Parents may enter the building to drop off/retrieve items for students using a designated table inside the doorway or foyer
  • Essential visitors to schools must complete an active self-assessment before entering, and wear masks while indoor
  • Essential/frequent visitors are to submit a vaccination attestation and follow all Public Health/Ministry of Education requirements while at the school
  • Effective February 23, spectators are permitted for sporting events in schools. 

Transportation

  • Masks are required on all buses for students in K-12 and the driver
  • Students will have assigned seating again this year for contact tracing
  • Enhanced cleaning will be provided between runs
  • Depending on the number of students returning to in-person learning, Niagara Student Transportation Services advises that it may be challenging to physically distance students
  • Please visit nsts.ca for more information

Travel

Any student or staff member who travels outside of Canada is subject to the Government of Canada’s travel requirements. Please reference this page for information about travel and any impact it has on returning to school or work upon return.

Ventilation

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to optimize air quality in all schools and classrooms using provincial and federal funding
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to comply with all Ministry expectations regarding mechanical ventilation systems
  • Ventilation systems in all schools and sites have been checked to ensure they are in good working order
  • Ventilation systems are regularly inspected throughout the school year
  • All kindergarten classes have stand-alone HEPA air filtration systems, in addition to any mechanical ventilation systems in operation at schools
  • Classrooms and any learning spaces without alternate ventilation also have stand-alone HEPA air filtration systems
  • Niagara Catholic has more than 700 HEPA filters in use in our schools. Read our Ventilation Report here.
  • Facilities Services staff will monitor C02 levels in schools and sites as per local public health guidelines and will address as required

Vaccinations

  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow Ministry of Education requirements regarding vaccinations for all staff
  • All Niagara Catholic staff are required to complete their vaccination attestation by September 7, 2021
  • Niagara Catholic created a document outlining expectations for all Niagara Catholic staff - attestations are ongoing and are published on the Board website twice monthly. All non-vaccinated staff or staff who do not disclose vaccination status are required to submit to rapid antigen testing three times a week per Ministry of Education requirements, as well as education programs. Failure to comply with these Ministry directives will lead to progressive discipline, up to, and including, termination
  • Niagara Catholic will comply with Ministry directives to provide transparency to our community regarding the percentage of our staff who have been vaccinated. This information is provided at the top of this web page and is updated twice monthly
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to work with Niagara Region Public Health to promote vaccinations for students aged 5 to 17 by hosting in-school clinics. Clinics will take place after school hours and on weekends, hosted by Public Health at locations selected by Public Health based on vaccination rates in the community, to ensure that parents are with children when they are vaccinated

Mental Health and Student Supports

Student mental health and well-being are a key priority for the coming year. Niagara Catholic’s Mental Health and Wellness Team will continue to support students facing mental health challenges as we return to school to help them learn and succeed in school and in life.

  • Social Workers will provide in-person mental health and therapy supports at the school level. If virtual supports are requested, this will also be facilitated through the school
  • Child and Youth Workers will provide classroom-based promotion and prevention programming in identified classrooms on their identified schedules
  • The Mental Health Lead will provide in-person support to schools for family consultations about mental health treatment, community threat assessments and grief responses
  • External mental health services and supports that are offering in-person support, will also provide these services in-person in our schools. (Mental Health and Addiction Nurses, Pathstone Mental Health, Niagara Region Public Health and Community Addiction Services of Niagara)
  • Community partners will provide approved mental health programming or presentations in the schools

Academic Programs

Cooperative Education

  • In-person cooperative education placements can be arranged, provided the arrangements comply with the Reopening Ontario Act and are supported by Niagara Region Public Health
  • All students who participate in cooperative education placements at Niagara Catholic schools must be fully vaccinated. All other students participating in cooperative education placements must comply with the vaccination policy of their proposed work placement. If the work placement mandates that the co-op student (employee) must be fully vaccinated, the co-op student must adhere to the workplace expectations for that placement.  If the student is vaccinated, then they can accept the placement.  If the student is NOT vaccinated, they will not be permitted in that placement and must seek opportunities elsewhere
  • Virtual placements will be considered when in-person placements are not possible
  • Modifications will be made if circumstances change

Music

Effective February 10, 2022, the provincial government lifted restrictions on music programs in elementary and secondary schools, and band and choir in secondary schools. The following rules apply:

  • Wearing a mask while singing and maintaining as much distancing as possible between individuals
  • Masks may be removed while actively playing a musical instrument but must be worn while waiting for the musical activity to begin and after it ends
  • For elementary schools, students must remain within their cohorts to participate in these activities. We hope to offer extracurricular music programs at the elementary level at some point this year

Health and Physical Education and Extracurricular Sports

  • The use of gymnasiums, swimming pools, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor P.E. equipment are permitted with safe physical distancing and masks when are able to be safely worn
  • High and low-contact activities are permitted indoors. Masks are not required while playing high-impact sports but must be worn while on the bench
  • Masks are not required when playing high or low-impact activities outdoors
  • Masking is recommended for indoor sports when they can be worn safely, based on the activity
  • Windows/external doors should be opened whenever possible to increase ventilation
  • See Masks - students (above) for masking requirements for Physical Education for elementary students

Field Trips

January 2022 - Field trips are on hold until further notice, at the direction of the provincial government. We hope to be able to resume these programs later this winter or in the spring with the guidance below. Virtual field trips are permitted. Activities such as skating at a municipal arena or outdoors, when kept within a cohort and following any vaccination requirements of the site, are permitted.

  • Day trips and overnight stays are permitted according to the appropriate requirements in the Reopening Ontario Act
  • Niagara Region Public Health has approved field trips, following all safety precautions and guidance in this document and the government's Roadmap to Reopen
  • Students are to be in cohorts during the trip
  • Appropriate tracking for contract tracing will be in place
  • Seating is to be assigned and recorded on buses and wherever students may be eating
  • Participants must follow all requirements of the destination with respect to vaccinations and physical distancing
  • Arrival and departure times will be staggered to support cohorts and physical distancing

EQAO

Grade 9 EQAO testing will take place this year. Parents of Grade 9 students will receive specific information from their child's teacher or principal.

  • Grade 3 and 6 assessments will resume in a new digital format
  • Grade 9 students will write the Grade 9 math digital adaptive assessment and the assessment may count towards up to 10 percent of a student’s final grade
  • EQAO assessments must be done in person at the school
  • Students enrolled in remote learning may choose to participate in EQAO assessments in person, as permitted by the Board and with all safety guidelines in place

Literacy and Community Involvement Graduation Requirements

  • The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) requirement is waived for students graduating in the 2021-2022 school year
  • It will resume for students graduating in June 2023 - Principals will advise students due to write the test of key dates
  • Students in Grades 10 and 11, non-graduating students and remote learners are required to work towards the graduation requirement by participating in the OSSLT or the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC)
  • The number of Christian Community Service hours required for graduates in 2022 has been reduced from 40 to 20
  • Greater flexibility in how students earn their hours will be permitted this school year
  • The requirement for 40 hours will resume in September 2022

Adult and Continuing Education

  • Niagara Catholic will offer flexibility in delivery options for Adult/Continuing Education programs and Indigenous Education

Faith 

Parish priests are permitted to visit schools and celebrate Mass within the guidance provided by the Diocese of St. Catharines. Families of students due to receive first Communion or celebrate Confirmation this year will receive information from their child's teacher, principal, or parish priest. 

All students will continue to be supported on their faith journey in 2021-2022

  • In accordance with the Ministry guidance, Mass can take place at school (secondary only - elementary may walk to parishes for Mass, if able, subject to capacity limits for churches in Stage 3 of Ontario's Roadmap to Reopen)
  • Parish priests will be able to return to schools in September for visits and celebrations
  • Chaplains will return to schools in September 2021
  • Elementary and secondary retreats will take place in accordance with guidelines at the time of the scheduled event

Extra-curriculars and Community Use of Schools

After a pause following the Christmas break, Community Use of Schools permits resumed on January 31, 2022.

Clubs - Secondary

Clubs, activities, and other extracurricular activities not listed above are permitted in a virtual setting. Cohorts may interact outdoors with physical distancing encouraged, and indoors with masks and appropriate physical distancing

Inter-School Sports – Secondary – Effective February 10, the provincial government lifted the restriction on inter-school sports, as noted above. 

  • All inter-school sports are to follow the Physical Education guidelines, including:
    • High and low-contact activities are permitted both indoors and outdoors
    • Masks are not required when playing high or low-impact activities outdoors
    • Masking is required when players are on the bench
    • Masking is encouraged for indoor sports when they can be worn safely, based on the activity
    • Students participating in wrestling and hockey are required to be fully vaccinated.
    • No invitational tournaments will take place this year. SOSSA/OFSAA will take place. Schools may host SOSSA/OFSAA
    • Elementary sports will not commence until staff assess if it is safe to do so

Before and After-School Programs

Community Use of Schools

Community Use of Schools resumed in a limited capacity in November as noted below:

  • Indoor permits began on November 1 for NFP groups not charging a fee only:
  • Monday to Friday: 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. OR 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Outdoor-only permits:

  • Monday to Friday: 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

COVID-19 Management in Schools

Until mid-December, Niagara Catholic had a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 in our schools. This was due in large part to the safety protocols in place within our schools, parental cooperation in following Public Health guidance when your child is sick, and relatively good weather which has allowed us to keep windows open and students to be outside during the school day.

However, the emergence of Omicron in Niagara in December led to an explosion of cases in our schools, and the closure of three secondary schools due to staffing concerns.

In mid-December, Niagara Region Public Health indicated it could no longer conduct contact tracing and advised us to consider a positive case on a rapid antigen test as a confirmed case of COVID. Generic letters were provided to classes where a case was identified and all individuals were placed into 10 days of self-isolation, regardless of vaccination status.

In late December, the provincial government announced it could no longer keep up with the demand for rapid antigen and PCR testing, making PCR tests available only to high-risk contacts or for use in the medical community. Anyone with a single COVID symptom has been advised to assume they have the virus and to self-isolate according to new provincial self-isolation guidance. Further, it announced schools would no longer have to report and track COVID cases in classes or schools.

In January, Niagara’s Acting Medical Officer of Health placed additional safeguards in place, including:

  • Requiring that COVID-19 cases confirmed by a RAT or PCR be reported to Public Health – the online reporting tool has been updated to allow parents or staff to report cases. Under the Education Act, principals have a duty to report if the individual who advises them of the case indicates they will not report to Public Health
  • Public Health will issue guidance to affected classrooms. On January 28, Public Health advised that they will not send letters to families if the date of exposure was five days prior or to the date of notification in most cases, but may do it in specific circumstances if they feel it is warranted
  • Principals will no longer pre-emptively close classrooms
  • Public Health is not including transportation cohorts as part of contact tracing, only classrooms
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to work diligently to ensure our schools are safe for our students and staff
  • Niagara Catholic has three Board COVID leads who will support school administrators and staff, Senior Staff, and trustees for the coming year
  • The COVID-19 for Administrators Guide, developed in 2020, has been updated for the 2021-2022 school year and shared with all school principals, vice-principals, Family of Schools Superintendents and their administrative assistants and other relevant staff as required – with the new guidance from Public Health, most of this is obsolete. Principals are asked not to access this folder
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow Niagara Region Public Health guidance and requirements regarding case confirmations, contact tracing and self-isolation (obsolete, as noted above, Public Health has assumed all responsibility for this beyond receiving contact information from schools)
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow best practices for advising school communities of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (obsolete)
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to publicly report cases through a link on our website at a scheduled time each day (obsolete)
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to report cases daily through the online reporting tool (obsolete)
  • Niagara Catholic will continue to follow the outbreak protocols in place by Niagara Region Public Health (obsolete)

Management of Cases in Schools

Niagara Catholic is no longer responsible for COVID management cases in schools. If new guidance is provided, we will update or return to the guidance listed below, as instructed:

Niagara Catholic will continue to follow its established practice regarding isolating a student when they feel ill at school in a safe room until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian

  • Names of all individuals in contact with the person will be provided to Niagara Region Public Health
  • Niagara Catholic will comply with all Ministry of Education and Niagara Regional Public Health requirements regarding self-isolation (recognizing differences for individuals who are vaccinated and asymptomatic and unvaccinated/partially vaccinated individuals)
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